Diaflogue: Michael Kupperman exclusive Q&A

 Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 by Michael Kupperman

I had some questions for Tales Designed to Thrizzle creator Michael Kupperman, which he graciously answered over email. All links below were added by me.

MB: In the new issue of Thrizzle, apart from the move to full color, there also seem to be fewer short strips and gags and more multi-page stories — what led to this? Is this indicative of an evolutionary shift in the comic?

MK: Well, yes — the comic has to keep evolving to keep going. For this issue I had been developing these three story ideas for a while, and it just worked out that way. There will still be lots of shorter bits coming, but many of them will be under one conceptual umbrella or another.

From Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6 - Michael Kupperman

MB: You count some pretty high-profile comedy writer/performers among your fans (Conan O'Brien, Robert Smigel and Peter Serafinowicz among them)… apart from the fact that they know funny when they see it, how did your work come to their attention?

MK: Someone showed it to them, or they noticed it somehow, and they though it was funny. And when someone you think is funny thinks your work is funny, that's about the best feeling in the world. Really kept me going when there were no other tangible rewards.

MB: You've also had comedians doing voices at your readings, as with your presentation at MoCCA this year, which was a big hit — do you see more potential for cross-pollination of comics and live comedy?

MK: Yes. I very much want to expand on this actually. I feel that I'm working at the intersection of where art and comedy meet, and I'd like to expand that intersection. Too many artists are scared of being funny, at least without a veneer of preciousness…

Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman - ICv2  preview

MB: Who are some of your favorite people working in comedy?

MK: Besides Conan, Peter and Robert? If I were to single out one person working right now — and I will — it's the English comedian Stewart Lee. He's currently doing a TV series called Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle in the UK. Oh, and the Channel 101/Acceptable TV people — they're doing truly great work.

MB: Can you reveal anything about the new television project you're developing?

MK: Not quite yet. One word: horror.

MB: My spine is tingling already! Any word from the Conan camp now that he's been scooped up by TBS? It sure would be great to see some Kuppermanic material on his new show.

MK: No, and "from your lips to God's ears."

MB: Amen. You've fully embraced Twitter as a joke outlet/workshop — have you made any specific or surprising discoveries from it that have found their way into your comics work?

MK: Definitely. I do trot concepts out there I'm thinking of using — Twitter is a very immediate way of testing an idea's conceptual catchiness.

MB: Having seen your originals on display at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, your artwork looks very labor-intensive. Can you talk a bit about your process? 

MK: It's very labor-intensive when I actually do the whole page the old-fashioned way — but I do that less often these days. Not that I don't enjoy it — I do — but Time is the most valuable commodity right now, and I really haven't got enough. So I do use the computer quite a bit, any shortcut I can think of. But the most serious time is devoted to thinking and planning, working out the concepts.

MB: Tell our readers a little bit about the vintage men's-magazine scans you occasionally post on your blog and Twitter feed. 

MK: Those are from an eccentric man's collection that I acquired from a now-defunct used magazine store on 40th street. He'd been buying men's magazines for decades, and then taking them apart and putting them back together in his own order, with cover defacements to finish them off. They've been a huge source of inspiration over the years — a surreal avalanche of period weirdness — and since I put some pages online a publishing company has come forward to do a book, which should be out in the next year.

Man's Daring

MB: What attracts you to that type of material, and to that vintage aesthetic in general? 

MK: Because art and design in those days was sharp and provocative — for people. Now it's sleek and boring — for designers.

MB: What are some of your other sources of inspiration that might not be apparent in your work? 

MK: I read a lot of genre fiction — thrillers and the like. Lately John Sandford — he can really write!

MB: Was there a concept or persona behind the "P. Revess" pseudonym you used to use?

MK: I liked the ambiguity of it, also "Revess" suggests "Reve," the French for "dream."

Michael Kupperman 3D comic

MB: You did some 3D comics for Nickelodeon magazine — could an all- or even partly-3D issue of Thrizzle ever be in the cards? Please?

MK: I'd love to. BUT someone has to format the 3D, and then you have to include the glasses… You guys give me the word, I'll start working on it now. I love seeing my drawings move in the third dimension!

MB: I'll see what I can do about that! We'll call up Ray Zone. And finally: Any other projects in the works we should know about?

MK: I've been doing a lot of illustration: new writing from A.G. Pasquella and Jack Pendarvis, who you probably remember from their brilliant subtitling of the Turkish Jeffersons on the first Wholphin DVD; an LP compilation from Fayettenam Records; and a book by Kristin Schaal and Rich Blomquist, The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex.

Why Not a Spider Monkey Jesus? - cover by Michael Kupperman